Paris is OVERWHELMING!

Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:08 PM
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Paris is OVERWHELMING!

I am taking a trip to Belgium this winter but flying into Paris for a much cheaper fare. I have been to Paris several times for short periods, and have never been able to get into its groove, so to speak. Because I don't have the luxury of staying for very long when I'm on holiday I prefer smaller cities that I can get to know very well (which is why I'm going to Bruges and Ghent). I guess I'm wondering if anyone can make a case for spending some time in Paris, even if it's only a couple of days, without feeling like you didn't get it at all (and note I'm a fluent French speaker who lived in the Alps for 3 years so it's not a cultural problem).
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:18 PM
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It sounds like you just don't like large cities, although you haven't said if your feeling is peculiar to Paris or any large city.

Sure, I could, but if you truly have no desire to go there, I wouldn't say you had to. If you are a fluent French speaker, though, this is even odder to me, unless you have no interest in architecture or art or museums. If not, I could see how you might say so what. If you do want to try it, I'd just suggest you go to Paris and have a plan to just focus on one small area so it doesn't seem overwhelming. That could be St-Germain or the Latin Qtr or Marais, for example. Or, you could stay around Hotel de Ville and Louvre and not budge much from there. But without knowing what you like to do in cities, it's kind of hard to suggest anything.

There are certainly large cities in the world that I have no particular desire to visit even though they are English-speaking, and many in my own country.

Having been to Bruges, though, I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time there, it's too cute and like Disneyland. Sure, I liked it, but a couple days was enough for me.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:32 PM
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mp, Christina's idea is a good one. Pick one small area of Paris to stay in, explore that neighborhood, and don't attempt to do more. That's a lot like staying in a smaller town.

Or, select 1-2 things to do that really appeal to you, and just wander around the rest of the time. If you eliminate the pressure to "do" Paris, you might discover how charming it is.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:36 PM
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Christina, thanks for responding. I am quite fond of big cities (I live in NYC) and was an architecture student! It's not that I have no interest in what's to see in Paris, it's rather that there is so much there I don't even know how/where I would start. Your suggestion to focus on one area sounds very suitable for me, so if you have any ideas on what that one area might be I would be most grateful! Thanks!
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:37 PM
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mp413 yes Paris is overwhelming! There is so much to see and do and it is so huge! Even though it was published in 2000 Fodors has a book "Fodor's to Go 48 Hours in Paris". I saw it on Amazon for as little as $3.00 used...perhaps it might give you some sample itineraries. But I do see your point it took me several trips to really absorb the city. Even now many trips later there is still something new. So I can see your point. I wish I was a fluent French speaker...that certainly makes it far easier to adjust. Best of luck.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for the book tip Katherine. Do you have a suggestion for 48 hours in Paris (a neighborhood to focus on, etc.)? I imagine that wouldn't even be enough time to see the Louvre...
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:43 PM
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Paris is one of my favourite city, I could spend a lots of time there, just walking around and enjoy the scenery. But not everyone has the same feelings that I have for this city. My DH for example, never cared for Paris. The city, despite its beauty leave him indifferent, and he rather go to Rome instead. Now DH in his Air Force career has travelled everywhere in the world, so he used to see interesting places... but Paris is not for Him...
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:56 PM
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You could stay in the St. Germaine area, where there are a number of beautiful old churches within walking distance (St. Germaine, St. Sulpice, St. Severin, not to mention the Notre Dame and St. Chapelle). There are many intriguing narrow streets to wander, wonderful cafes where you can sit and just "observe" Paris, and of course, there's the Seine. The Cluny Museum is there, and it would fit the bill for small and not overwhelming.

Or....you could buy a 2-day open bus tour pass, and just ride around the major areas of Paris, seeing the highlights and getting a feel for the layout of the city.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you go, because it's a glorious city!

Joyce
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 02:58 PM
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mp413 tell us what types of things you like to do (eat, go to museums, cathedrals,shop, walk etc..). What I might like to do might bore you to tears....
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 03:08 PM
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mp...we were there in June, and we both absolutely loved it. But, we used a guide for 2 of the 6 days we were there, and that made a huge difference. His name is Michael Osman, and he has been recommended highly from this board, where we learned about him. He is a former American art student, and can really help you scratch the surface a little deeper and more meaningfully. It helped us tremendously. With your background, you would do great with him since he is great at planning a day that centers around your interests.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 03:15 PM
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Wren, the tour guide sounds great. Not to be unseemly, but could you give me an idea of how much he charges (by day, 1/2 day)?

Katherine, visiting/walking through historical/architectural sites is #1 for the day, eating and drinking is #1 at night. (In London drinking would be daytime activity #2 because of all the pubs, but I don't expect it's quite like that in Paris). Living in NY I have my fill of museums. (That's not to say I wouldn't love to go to the Louvre for my entire trip but it's just not my priority when I don't have all the time in the world, you know?)
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 03:30 PM
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He really is great....he charged the 2 of us 75 euros for the whole day, and I mean from 10:00 to 21:00. He gave us an experience we could have not gotten on our own, because he has been doing this for quite awhile, and he really knows his way around. He is very flexible, comes to your hotel, listens to what you want to do, and then you tour receiving a lot of info and background. http://www.geocities.com/parisfinder/ is his website, but calling works as well.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 04:04 PM
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mp413 with your background in architecture I would then go see places of great interest depending what style you liked etc...Organize them by district (arrondisements). Decide if you want to tour any of them. Check out the opening/closing hours. Figure out an organized route (to maximize your time). I did a search on Google and found lots of online resources for important buildings, structures etc.
As far as places to eat..if time is of the essence eat a light meal while out and about. Eat your main meal in the evening. Since I have not been to Paris recently, someone else or recent trip reports might clue you in on the best eating and nightlife.
I wish you a very nice trip. What a nice "problem" you have
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 04:14 PM
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Hi mp,

I would suggest the Marais as an area to focus on. I spent some time there last trip and enjoyed it. There's several museums, charming squares, churches, interesting food, walking tours etc.

As an alternative to an area I would choose a theme and focus on that. Suggestions are: the morning markets, a particular artist, or artistic period. The artistic period would be multi-disciplinary and could be interesting. Choose an era and discover the painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, and architects who contributed during that time.

adrienne
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 04:36 PM
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I think the guide idea is a good one. I also think concentrating on one area is a good idea. What about staying on Ile de la Cite which is residential, charming, has restaurants, is near Notre Dame? Make it YOUR home. I've taken note of these 3 hotels on the ile-Hotel Lutece, Hotel des deux Iles and Hotel St. Louis.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 04:52 PM
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I 2nd Adrienne's suggestion of the Marais. I was thinking that as I read thru the responses. It has that wonderful little village feel with the old buildings, picturesque squares, plus there're lots of small, non-overwhelming museums to visit. I've also heard only really good comments about Michael Osman, as well. He's very knowledgable concerning art & architecture.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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I think you have received some great suggestions - and I agree with Mclaurie about staying on Ile de la Cite. We enjoyed walking, shopping, eating, etc. and most of all just sitting and enjoying a drink overlooking the Seine. This is a great area - the hotels looked lovely, and we thought this would be our first choice of places to stay in Paris. There are so many neighborhoods - and we enjoyed many of them. We are planning another trip to Paris as we never have a lot of time when we are there either. In fact, we spend most of our time in small villages because this is what we prefer. But we still love Paris - but mainly because we do what has been suggested here - we break it down into neighborhoods and concentrate on one at a time.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 06:11 PM
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Hi mp413,
When we went to Paris I used paris vision. They have a website now but don't think they did when I went and I faxed them. We did a full day tour that went to the the musee d'orsay and other sites. We also did a night tour that included the moulin rouge. You may not like group tours but our group was not too large, we had a good guide and saw a lot of things. However, I was there for several days and did other things on our own. If you are traveling alone, you might enjoy others for a brief time. Anyway you could check it out if you desire. Now you know how I feel in NYC--too much to do and not ever enough time but I pack it in and enjoy what I have time for and hope to go back again for more. Since you studied architecture you might want to research and see some of that. You may have already done all the "tourist" stuff but if you have not been to the Rodin museum it was great. There is so much to do there (as in NYC), just pick some things and enjoy what you do. Ride the subway and go to Pere La Chaise (sp) cemetary. Visit Sainte Chapelle for fabulous stained glass. Go inside the Garnier Opera house. See Monet's water lillies . Happy travels.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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I can recommend the Hotel du Lutece on the Ile Saint Louis. We stayed there last June and loved it. It is an ideal location for exploring the Marais as it is a 5 minute walk from there, as well as a 5 minute walk to Notre Dame.

The Ile is an oasis in the midst of Paris and you will feel as if you are living in a tiny village.
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 06:21 PM
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I also wold suggest concentrating on the Marais. For museums there are the Carnavalet (history of Paris), the Picasso and the Hotel de Soubise for its interiors. Pour flâner, you can do the Place des Vosges and the small streets west of it. If you are there on a Sunday, you can do the Sunday market on the Blvd. Richard Lenoir. Finally, the Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle are not far away.
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